75 years Ago Spearfish, South Dakota Set a Weather Record
One thing that I still miss about growing-up in far western Nebraska is the crazy weather. It could be a blizzard on Monday and 60 degrees on Tuesday.
Much like my ancestral homeland, the Black Hills area is known for similar weather events. Seventy-Five years ago, on January 22, 1943, Spearfish, South Dakota made it into the record books with one.
On that day the temperature in Spearfish rose and dropped 50 degrees within minutes. From below zero to springtime in 120 seconds, then back to the icebox less than a half-hour later. It became known as the world's fastest recorded rise in temperature.
From the National Weather Service:
In Spearfish, the temperature rose from -4 at 7:32 a.m. to 45 degrees–a rise of 49 degrees—in just two minutes. A couple of hours later, it plunged from 54 back to -4 degrees–a change of 58 degrees in 27 minutes. In downtown Rapid City, the temperature had warmed to +5 degrees by 9:20 a.m., then it quickly warmed to 54 degrees by 9:40 am—a difference of 49 degrees in 20 minutes....The change in temperature was noticeable as people rounded street corners. Motorists were unable to see out their windshields when thick frost forms as they encountered the front and plate glass windows cracked.
The crazy temperatures were caused by a frontal boundary that separated extremely cold Arctic air from warmer air from the west that "rolled like an ocean tide" along the Black Hills. As the warm winds, known as the chinook winds, came off the Rockies and over the Black Hills it moved the cold air that was sitting on the area. After those warm winds blew through, the cold came back.
Here's a report about the event from KOTA-TV from 2013.